U.S. national-security adviser John Bolton has told Russia that it should “get out” of Crimea and eastern Ukraine and “stop interfering” in U.S. elections, warning that Washington could impose further sanctions on Moscow.
“It will be helpful if they stop interfering in our election...get out of Crimea and the Donbas in Ukraine," Bolton told Reuters during a stop in the Georgian capital, Tbilisi, on October 26.
He also urged Moscow to “stop using illegal chemical weapons to conduct assassination attempts against Russian exiles in the West and...be less intrusive in the Middle East.”
Such actions had prompted Washington to impose sanctions on Moscow in the past, Bolton said, and he refused to rule out additional penalties in the future.
Bolton, who held talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow earlier this week, has said Washington is in the process of deciding whether it will impose additional sanctions on Russia over the poisoning of former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter in Britain.
The United States and European Union also have sanctions in place to punish Moscow for its seizure and annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea Peninsula and for its support of separatists fighting the Kyiv government in eastern Ukraine.
Talk has surfaced among some U.S. Republican lawmakers and in some European capitals about a possible easing of sanctions pressure against Russia, suggestions that Bolton played down.
"It would certainly be inaccurate to say we are not going to impose any more sanctions on Russia,” he told Reuters.
“We are going to do what we are required to do and what we think is necessary," he added.
Moscow has repeatedly denied it interfered in the 2016 U.S. presidential election or that it had anything to do with the chemical attacks on the Skripals.
The father and daughter survived after weeks in critical condition, but a woman who authorities said came in contact with the poison died in July.
Bolton’s comments came during a trip to Russia and three South Caucasus countries -- Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Georgia.
After his talks with Georgian leaders, Bolton told reporters that the United States supports Georgia's territorial integrity and independence.
Georgia's bitter rival, Russia, backs separatist leadership in South Ossetia and Abkhazia, which broke from Georgian central government control in the early 1990s, and Moscow waged a five-day war with Tbilisi over the two regions in August 2008.
Russia’s Interfax news agency quoted Georgian Prime Minister Mamuka Bakhtadze as saying that "relations between Georgia and the United States reached a new level in their development under the administration [of President Donald Trump].”
“Their level has never been so high," he added.
Bolton also told RFE/RL on October 25 that the United States had invited Putin to Washington “after the first of the year,” although no date has been set.
He also said Trump will briefly talk to the Russian leader on the sidelines of events in Paris on November 11 to commemorate the centenary of the end of World War I.